Blackpool Tower: access stair to the Crow’s Nest
A false hue-and-cry created post-Christmas entertainment in the centre of Blackpool on Thursday December 28th 2023 when passers-by thought they could see flames shooting from the top of the Tower.
Phone footage does indeed look convincingly like a fire – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-67836123 – but it was an illusion caused by orange netting flapping in the wind.
Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service deployed six fire-engines, a helicopter and a “rope rescue” team to inspect the upper levels of the structure leading to the “Crow’s Nest”.
The excitement was over before teatime.
It wasn’t the first alarm about a fire at the top of the Tower.
There was a real fire above the 380ft landing, where the passenger lifts terminate, late in the evening of Thursday July 22nd 1897, three years after the Tower was opened.
It was a time when there was no possible way to put it out. The wooden decking was simply left to burn itself out while crowds watched from the Promenade.
All the fire brigade could do was to protect surrounding buildings from catching fire from falling debris. The Liverpool Mercury (July 24th 1897) reported –
Showers of sparks flew around in all directions, and large pieces of blazing wood dropped away from the burning mass, and sped through the air like rockets. As the flames got better hold of the woodwork, the heat became more and more intense, and long before midnight the iron framework on the east side of the platform was white heat.
The most dramatic moment came when the wire rope attached to one of the lift cars burnt through, and the eleven-ton counterweight dropped the full height of the Tower, burrowing into the foundations within a private box in the Circus auditorium, where it still remains.
The noise of its fall was heard all over Blackpool and brought people out into the streets.
The fire burnt itself out shortly after midnight, and at daybreak it was apparent that below the seat of the fire the paintwork was barely scorched.
The following day Blackpool’s entertainments carried on, profiting from additional visitors drawn in by the news reports.
It’s an ill wind…
The Liverpool Mercury news article can be found at https://amounderness.co.uk/blackpool_tower_fire_1897.html.